The Inside Scoop: The Journey of Open Studios through 5 Thursdays to Cambridge

#bilberriesblueopencatalogue is a gift for all.

BILBERRIES BLUE: OPEN STUDIOS

April 23 – May 22, 2021

how we got from here to there, everywhere, nowhere, upside down, inside out, and eventually arriving in the ability to re-create one’s self,

through a journey from impossibilities to possibilities?


Bilberries Blue: Open Studios was conceived today as we are re-creating the new form of BB Studio. Perhaps it is going to be a disassembling, and then, relocating, or maybe, some parts of BB Studio will go into different communities and ecosystems, to serve as a 3D-2D-virtual travelling exhibition libraries, a pedagogical provocation that prompts reflections.

Reflections about what? I think it is about the purpose of Bilberries Blue. The Why of a space, a place, an organisation, a business. The test is this, if we didn’t exist, what would the world have missed? And tonight, as I am reflecting regarding the future of Bilberries Blue, and my participation in it, I think, many possibilities would not have happened, if Bilberries Blue had not existed, and many deepening of what we had started, would also not bear fruit, if we don’t continue.

And maybe, re-creation requires this kind of deep humbling appreciation of the significance, kindness and beauty of one’s work, before a decision and a determination really can take root, for the next significant leap into the unknown. Something good wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and how could we not keep making good worlds. How could we not, and suddenly, what I had thought of as such a difficult journey suddenly opened up.

I don’t beat myself for not having crystallised the vision yet, nor feel so empty with the non-visibility of the accomplishments. Nor feel so burdened that we haven’t been able to make the business model work for everyone.

These thoughts have weighed me down so terribly as I was dreading confronting where I am as a co-founder of Bilberries Blue. Everyone has said to me: you are taking too long. And I have said to myself: I have failed.

Good, real and deep things, especially beautiful friendships, and love, they are a journey of step by step, and tears and laughter, disagreements and solidarity, incredible results and disastrous outcomes. Mistakes, and pondering upon pondering, but tried as I did, I couldn’t make the connection, much less the communication: nobody knows this world. Yet.

But, if we just keep to the mundane, and same old formulas, and safe zones: will we feel alive? And will we know such pain of invisibility, and will we grow such kindness for ourselves – for not compromising, and bearing the full blown brunt and outcome of losing the acceptances of worldly measures of successes?

Especially, even when the most faithful of friends walk out of the dream.

I don’t know how such moments of kindness arrive, and when they do, I can only be glad for them. It means I am no longer doubtful of my past decisions, nor beat myself up at the imbalances from the worldly view, and maybe, it’s been mine. Maybe I am the one who don’t dare let go of my own comfort zone. Maybe I just keep going. Because if I keep going, it all keeps going. And if I stop, it will all stop, and I couldn’t bear a world that didn’t have Bilberries Blue.

I feel like I am talking about a pudding or a teddy bear. 

This is the thing about Bilberries Blue – we have this endless joy and madclapping that keep frothing up from out of nowhere, and what does it do?

It keeps us alive. The nonsensical chic keeps us alive, and adds colour to this world that might be a little too OTT with too much swagger and no deep traction, or too drab with solemn absolute certain seriousness. But having said that, we are a little out of balance, and will have to focus more on our funding and business model at this inflexion point.

Economic empowerment matters, especially when we are building and making good stuff and worlds.

Peng-Ean Khoo
Sustainability Steward
Bilberries Blue
#bilberriesblueopenstudios
April 16, 2021



BILBERRIES BLUE SUMMER SCHOOL: 5 THURSDAYS TO CAMBRIDGE

In Bilberries Blue Summer School: 5 Thursdays to Cambridge, Bilberries Blue will figure the funding for our promise to each other to meet in Cambridge, to spend precious time together reflecting and sharing our journey from impossibilities to possibilities. As we are a school of life, and have been, and we are now at a global level, because we make it so, we want to celebrate this, and participate in research and practitioner directions of sustainable development, sustainable entrepreneurism, full inclusion, work-life integration in places of possibilities, and the daily perspective and commitment to the positive re-creation of the gift and joy of life – in homes, communities, workplaces, marketplaces – glocally.

When we have a dream, we need to make it happen. Otherwise, we live it not.

“The conversations with these youths are the fruits of their shared experience which is at the core of one`s existence, the ability to re- create one`s self.” – Bernadette Cenzon

In this session, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvJtXFgHOC9KRTkbB2uQbeYf3JVxYhPQF, Bernadette Cenzon, Vashima Goyal and Peng-Ean Khoo reflected on the foundation of Bilberries Blue Summer School. Re-create was our foundational turning point where everyday learning suddenly became everyday re-creating of oneself.

The insight we received:

When we become a school of our ownself, we can then become our own school.

And so, at Session #7 of Bilberries Blue Youth Stewardship Programme on “Journey of Possibilities” Milestone #3 Re-Create, we found the birthstone of Bilberries Blue Summer School: Re-creating oneself everyday.

Herein lies the empowerment that we have sought, a toolkit of life. With that, we are able to integrate all the various groups in Bilberries Blue that we have been emerged and evolved over the years but that we could not connect, integrate, synthesise, until we found this nugget.

The ability to re-create oneself everyday.

It is not possible to re-create oneself without mistakes, and admitting to mistakes, and then making a determination to re-direct, or re-create oneself. In reflecting upon the state of our humanity on earth, this is really one of the most empowering and enabling abilities, because, once acquired, and becomes a habit of mind, or a way of life, it allows us to take stock everyday – honestly, realistically, and yet, positively and self-determinedly even through our mistakes and failures.

We don’t perish because of our inalterable dignity. Instead, we become enriched by EVERY EXPERIENCE, because even and especially a failure, informs a re-create moment, i.e. it is contextualised in an honest decision & action of the re-creation of oneself.

It is at once, a sobering yet paradoxically liberating, insight. The inalterable dignity is rooted in the pedagogy of life, or pedagogy of humanness, and cannot be measured in extrinsic activities. It’s about the person. The oneself.

Why 5 Thursdays to Cambridge? Please stay tuned in. The adventure unfoldeth.

Bilberries Blue
#bilberriesbluesummerschool

The Inside Scoop: Matahari Eyes

Matahari Eyes

Matahari means “Sun” in the Malay language. When ‘Matahari Eyes’ emerged, I don’t think I had planned it. Nor could I have. I like that our communication is not about a campaign, but that it is about connecting. I couldn’t imagine planning a campaign as such; it is more like setting a focal point of reflecting. 

So, ‘Matahari Eyes’ is about this: reflecting about our collective commitment to the agroecology of the food system. Commitment in the end seems to look like ACTION. A daily dose of super action. Intents are important but sustainability requires living it. Culture, at the end of the day looks, feels, thinks as do. We seek perfection, but perfection and completion is, perhaps, simply about treasuring each other while the sun is shining and while the rain is falling.

For all the exploration of the little contemporary art that I have had the good gratitude to contemplate, perhaps for me, performance seems to be at the closest meeting point with living life. I think when we lose our way, we find our way back too. I don’t know how to explain this. All the meandering, all the discoveries, we can’t come home to ourselves, if we can’t be authentic in our intimacy of relationships. And we can’t be in relationships, if we can’t be comfortable inside out, and outside in.

Every encounter would change us, and every day we are alive, we are changing the world – earth and society, and the economics of voice, protection, provision and participation.

Perhaps at the heart of The Economics of Universal Wellbeing (TEUWB), is this simplicity of honesty. Simple truth – me: I am who I am. And then we take the chances. We take the risk that we change and get changed, and yet we can stay still, and we can stand, and we can walk forth. And we dance to the wind. Yet we fly in the rain. We soar on solid groundedness.

It is December 2020. Our eyes speak our all when words no longer suffice nor can communicate our common destiny. And if so, may our eyes speak of hope, of love, of truth, of pain, of loss – truths reconciled, recovered and healed, and of tenderness; of our unspoken awesome alivenesses.

May the suns in all of us light up our hearts and paths in the dark swirling night of our storm, which in the end might just reveal to us that we have been alright, and are alright, and beyond alright – we each and together are simply downright amazing. After all that is said and done.

May we look back, look now, look forward – at each other’s eyes. And hearts. And lives. Look out for and after each other.

And what of ‘Matahari’ – it is the sleuth in us – the discoverer. And if we be sleuths, then may we be good, happy and cheerful everyday researcher-practitioner making the world just spectacularly awesome because we are in it. Because of you and I. And I cannot complete, without you.

Season’s Greetings and Happy 2021: “New Things. Keep Well and Love Everybody.”

Shall we dance and weave to make the impossible, all and always – possible?


Peng-Ean Khoo
Sustainability Steward
Bilberries Blue
December 15, 2020 

The Inside Scoop: Press Release – A RAW-ing ROADSHOW

QR Code - BB Youtube

Press Release:
A RAW-ing ROADSHOW

 

Interludes Upon Interludes
https://bilberriesblue.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/the-inside-scoop-interludes-upon-interludes/

 

July 5, 2019: We went on a Raw-ing Roadshow yesterday. In that mobile inquiry, we bring along a Roadshow Survival Kit, with QR Codes. We, being the sustainability entrepreneurs: stewards and interns from 11 years old, and oldest being in the 60s. Our immediate goal, to sell tickets for our upcoming Bilberries Blue Inaugural Microsummit: WARM DATA – EMERGENCES WITH NORA BATESON.

 

Our microsummit programme design,
Day 1 is zero fee for 100pax, and Day 2 is SGD300 for 35pax.

 

Day 1

July 10, 2019 – 10 Square @ Orchard Central
AUDITORIUM
181 Orchard Road #10-01, S238896
10am-12.30pm, 100pax, Zero Fee Event

Register:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-at-10-square-tickets-63727751420

 

Day 2

July 11, 2019 – Temenggong House
18/20 Temenggong Road, S098771
10am-5pm (+ Lunch), 35pax, SDG300* per person
*20% of Bilberries Blue Microsummit Fees are designated for underserved communities

Register:
https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-temenggong-house-tickets-63730683189

 

 

Seen in isolation, the design of the microsummit would lose its pattern language meaning: which is to make possible the accessibility, yet keeping intact the treasury of the contextual fabric of co-constructive knowledge, in the evolution of the emerging one vision –

BB - TKW - Building the ESG Economy - Mar 14, 2019 - final.png

 

Bilberries Blue is a sustainable enterprise that co-builds and offers an ecosystem of biodiversity of sustainability knowledge, resources, and funding.

We are committed to emerge the necessary ecology of trust to accompany sustainable entrepreneurs to build and fulfil their ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Economy dreams through the weaving of sustainable enterprises that serve the needs of the local-global communities.

 

 

As our inaugural microsummit inquiry seed, we are so honoured and privileged to invite and co-host Ms Nora Bateson in Singapore. Nora Bateson is the Director of a multi-disciplined world class team of scientist, scholars and artists that form the IBI (International Bateson Institute) team of researchers. Ms Bateson will be sharing with us the work of the IBI and conduct a Warm Data Lab with all of us, at the same time being infused with our local-global contexts, conversations and community-knowledge making.

According to IBI’s website:  Warm Data” is information about the interrelationships that integrate elements of a complex system. It has found the qualitative dynamics and offers another dimension of understanding to what is learned through quantitative data, (cold data).

 

From Ms Bateson’s Linked-In sharing:

“The International Bateson Institute, registered in Stockholm, Sweden, is a non-profit Foundation for transcontextual research, in ecology, economy, social change, health, education and art. The International Bateson Institute provides a new kind of research to encourage and incubate projects that seek to study interaction within complex systems and across sectors. The aim of this research is to increase our ability to take into account the many relationships that coexist in any context of living things. In addition to providing much needed perspective to existing research and policy institutions, the findings of the International Bateson Institute projects will be presented as consultations, seminars, media, and artistic exhibitions aiming to engage culture and education simultaneously in public spaces, for all ages.

Transcontextual Research:
The International Bateson Institute is a new kind of research institution whose aim is to incubate projects that seek to describe how interactions in complex systems interlink. We are developing information with which to increase our ability to take into account the multilayered integrity that define living systems.”

 

 

We hope that as many diverse voices and participations as possible will join us to weave a co-learning of possibilities for our future economy and world. Anyone is welcome, bring a smile, bring a good, happy heart of friendship.

 

 

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

The Inside Scoop: Interludes Upon Interludes

COUNTDOWN T MINUS 4 Working Days – Does That Make Me A Hero, A Pilgrim or A Dancer?

chatting

Is the enterprise its own loom?

Who coordinates intra-enterprise activities? Say, we call this weaving.

Who coordinates the extra-enterprise activities? Say, we call this transformation of the cloth of all kinds to the needs of the person requiring the cloth.

What are the threads in the enterprise? Say, we call this functions. What are the functional threads that enable the weaving?

 

Who is the kind weaver in this scenario of the one enterprise, interacting with another person requiring the cloth for his or her own needs.

“We can customise,” the enterprise, who is The Kind Weaver, says to the person.

 

The person says, “It is for a dance.”

The Kind Weaver, smiles with a twinkle, “Oh, that’s a completely different story!”

 

“Why so?” asks the innocent person.

“Well, we would need to know who are you dancing with!” replies The Kind Weaver.

 

“Does that make me a hero, a pilgrim, or a dancer?” clarifies the innocent person.

 

“What?” it is now The Kind Weaver’s turn to clarify.

“I am hoping your cloth would do all three. Serve a 3-in-1 kinda purpose,” the hopeful person braves the speaking of a 3-in-1 wish from the heart.

 

“Now that’s a nice tall order,” chimes The Kind Weaver, “You have come to exactly the right place. We love big, seemingly impossible dreams.”

 

“What if you fail to weave such a cloth?” questions the hopeful person.

“Well, you would then be a pilgrim,” grins The Kind Weaver. “By your request, you have already wished for an invisible cloth, which makes you a dreamer.”

 

“What if you fail to weave such a cloth?” The discerning person questions again.

“Well, since you ask twice, nicely, that would make you meta. Asking about asking. That would make you a hero,” The Kind Weaver states a rational observation.

 

“What if you fail to weave such a cloth?” The rational person now becoming impatient with the exchange, of dialogue.

“Have you no faith?” The Kind Weaver wonders why the hopeful-discerning-rational person has stepped into the good Work shop in the first place.

 

“I don’t do paradoxes well,” finally the vulnerable person confesses that the dance partner has not yet been found and the dance steps have not yet been choreographed.

 

“What kind of dance are you doing?” The Kind Weaver cuts through to the chase.

“Something of the ordinary, yet extraordinary,” the dancer twirls in his twinkles.

“Well, I have the perfect cloth for you,” The Kind Weaver beams.

 

The Kind Weaver hands the hopeful dancer an instruction manual.

 

“Here is the loom,” The Kind Weaver, who loves to grin, grins.

“Only you can weave, build, shape, make, cut, sew, stitch, find your dance partner, dance, dance on, and fulfil the dreams in your heart,” a voice from the instruction manual sounds itself.

 

The be-mysteriousised bystander starts to speak, “May I have the loom, if he doesn’t want it.”

“And who are you??” both The Kind Weaver and the ordinary-extraordinary person now asks the new person.

 

“I shall be your dancing partner,” she announces.

 

“There you go, here’s two instruction manuals. Actually, it’s the same, yet unique to each of you. You could share but you would have to adapt it,” The Kind Weaver gleefully hands over the generative code.

“What’s in the box?” the two apprentices ask hoping what they have in their hands is a startup kit.

 

“The kickstarter’s guide to the galaxies, and back,” the box makes a face.

 

“Are you our teacher?” The two persons clarity.

“What??” A chord of voices suddenly sound.

 

“Whoa, you are a musical box!” The two persons having been utterly fascinated, seem to have forgotten the point of the inquiry of the dialogues.

 

“Your cloths, madam and mister,” The Kind Weaver made an ahem.

 

“What???” The Two Persons look back in astonishment.

 

“Afraid you still gotta weave it,” The Kind Weaver encourages, with a friendly smile. “It’s your dreams. I can’t weave what is yours to weave and make happen.”

 

But we can be here for you, to accompany you, and help you unpack the box.

 

“Who said that?” Asks The Two Makers.

 

“We are a song yet unheard unless you begin to unpack the music of your heart,” The Silent Dancer reveals her inner name.

The Two Weavers have now opened the box, and in there, it is empty.

 

Only a label stares back:

 

“Ahem, Where is your cloth?”

 

Someone, somewhere clears a throat.

 

Peng-Ean Khoo
July 4, 2019

 

A Collaborative Microsummit for Global Sustainability & Flourishing by

Bilberries Blue - Mar 2019 - finalIBI logoRICE-logo_colour-01

 

The Inside Scoop: Raw – Microsummit Matter

The Arrivals of Suddenly

Suddenly,

Manju arrives in from China.

img_0431Manju collecting her BB namecard
Sustainability Steward
BB Studio, Singapore 2019

Suddenly, Sustainability Interns arrive.

Gemma & Beth
Sustainability Interns
Singapore 2019

Our Microsummit Operational blackbelt team is crystallised. Our Sustainability Interns begin their journey too. We mapped our logistical parts & sequences.

COUNTDOWN T MINUS 5 Days – Tuesday July 2, 2019

Suddenly, we have a Roadshow.

Suddenly, we RAW.

Our first Youtube series Microsummit Matter got U-ed between yesterday and today.

And suddenly, Leo jumps in.

img_0452Leo Jumps In
BB Studio
Singapore, 2019

And we have Channel!

Microsummit Matter #1: Personal U-ing

 

Microsummit Matter #3: Mundo Play

 

REGISTER for Bilberries Blue Inaugural Microsummit:

Day 1 Zero Fee Event, 100 pax

https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-at-10-square-tickets-63727751420

Day 2 For A Smaller Group, 35 pax

https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-temenggong-house-tickets-63730683189

 

A Collaborative Microsummit for Global Sustainability & Flourishing by

Bilberries Blue - Mar 2019 - finalIBI logoRICE-logo_colour-01

The Inside Scoop: Playing with I-Don’t-Know

for my parents, Albert & Nancy Khoo
Thank you for the bequest of street entrepreneurism and everything under, beyond, inside and before the sun.

I don’t know gets harder and harder when it seems there is more and more available on the internet, and more ecosystems of human connections cohere, never to the speed and scale seen before, experienced before, graspable before.

Global events seem unprecedented.

Question is, has there been a marked change in human-earthly affairs or is it that there is perhaps a lot more “noise”?

Is there meaning and value in chatter in the ecology of human societal organisations and the dynamic ordering of universal harmony?

img_9961

 

COUNTDOWN T MINUS 6 Days – July 1, 2019

I can’t quite recall how the idea of information and coordination goes in the General Equilibrium Theory – the first cut. I think it just proofs mathematically, that should these conditions exist, there can exist a general equilibrium that clears market – meaning that the price mechanism is able to organise resources to meet every need in every state of existence.

This is a bit like a fairy tale. It is like the general promise of everything. But still, I hold on to it. Why?

Because the math says that it could be.

“Life is not maths,” I can hear the realists jumping in now.

“Simplify it,” the pragmatists longing to implement this reality start to pipe in.

“Teach us,” the learners express their enthusiasm.

 

That was the temptation I nearly fell for.

A theory isn’t yet implementable from thought to action.

A theory is a way of thinking. It is a tool. The IDEA of A Silent Dancer in a Pregnant Pause  eventually took 3 years to be incorporated into the twin engines of The Silent Dancer Pte Ltd and The Kind Weaver Pte Ltd.

SE1

The shares or equity of the two corporations are currently both held by Bilberries Blue Pte Ltd.

Pte Ltd represents Private Limited. It is a separate legal entity so that there is a veil of incorporation between the shareholders and the actors and subsequent actions of the company. A Pte Ltd is governed under the Company Law of the jurisdiction of the nationstate in which it has been incorporated.

When shares are transferred from one shareholder to another, it is between the shareholders.

When goods and services are offered by the private limited company, they are offered by the Pte Ltd.

The Pte Ltd is its own separate, legal entity.  Under Company Law, it stands and represents itself as a being.

There are Codes of Corporate Governance that exist that help set the international best practices for each of the nationstate jurisdiction on how a company operates. It suggests and mandates the best ethos and conducts for the leadership of a company, typically delegated by the holders of shares, shareholders, to the Board of Directors. The Financial Reporting Standards drive the accounting of the records of activities, and these get an independent audit at the end of each year. Shareholders activities are administered by the Company Secretary, which include Shareholders and Board members activities.

And currently, globally, the ESG (Environmental Social Governance) mandate is already incorporated in the international company best practices guidelines.

And it is also incorporated by many Funds, because many Funds are organised as a company, meaning, even Monetary Capital has been mandated to be ESG.

BB - TKW - Building the ESG Economy - Mar 14, 2019 - final

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) is already baseline.

Everything in between then, is up to the company, meaning the organisation of people, either holding the shares or equity of the company, or working in the company – either as co-founders, board members, employees, consultants or agents, or interacting with the company – either to exchange goods and services or prospecting for these possibilities, or those who have an externalities relationship to the company.

Externalities mean, the activities of the company, have not priced in the impact of the company on those not having a direct legal relationship with the company. This is typically the impact on the environment, or recently, the impact on the social fabric of the wellbeing of society.

(Because work-life balance is now blurred, and work is life, life is work, as livelihood issues become more and more urgent, for many households, and work is now through emails, Whatsapps, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. The chatter is non-stop. Meaning the bosses get to change their minds every second and bark instructions at the speed of thought. Thinking that their thoughts MUST equal INSTANT organised actions.)

This is a very tall order of things that the company has been tasked to price in. To incorporate the price of externalities.

The holders of shares or equity would cry, “Foul! My investment doesn’t serve such a big mandate. It cannot. What is the return on investment on my money?”

The people who are working in the company would cry, “Foul! My salary isn’t even enough to cover my household expenditure, how can I reduce my salary and increase my scope of work to take care of the environment and people, and governance? What is the state for then?”

Those who buy and sell the goods and services being produced by the company would cry, “Foul! I am paying for it all, either through more taxes (Goods & Services Tax), or increased prices. I don’t have enough MONEY to go round.”

So MONEY gets stretched. The Money folks have to allocate and distribute Money. So, they do the rational, up the Returns on Money or the Price of Money, also known as Interest Rates. So ROI on Money gets higher, to where money has been stretched because that demand that is so stretched would pay the highest ROI for the supply of money. This manifests as a dreaded economic phenomenon, a very global painful lesson of 1974: INFLATION.

Then comes in the Transaction Support guys, “I can’t turn money so fast. Pay me more to compensate for my 100 hour workweek. Plus when I am sleep-deprived, I am trading health for keeping my career, so I need more money for my future wellbeing (say in an insurance programme which funds rehabilitation of all sorts),” which begins the trade with the future. And TIME comes in.

 

If the State has a Treasury

The State (if it has a treasury), would come in and say, “I think we need some intervention here. But where?”

Under the Theory of the Firm, it is a blackbox. Economic Theory has a disconnect to Business, as it is practised in real life.

Under the Theory of Industrial Organisations, it is a case of “Don’t pick winners.” Because when you pick winners, you lose innovation. You miss the economic mechanism adapting to the complex adaptive system.

Nobody did Family then in Economics. We were kids, how would we know about Family. The theorists conveniently called this Household. And all households behave the same (in theory, every Homo Econimicus is rational and behaves the same). They think about bequests. Again, time comes in.

 

Zoom past my 30 year old references. 30 Years of Observations later.

Robustly framed and tested. (Or so I think!) I see companies as Sustainable Enterprises.

Integrating the Sustainable Enterprise

The consistency of it suggests a theory. It is not anecdotal evidence. It is method. Methodology. It is a framework. It is a model. It is workable. It is consistent. A Sustainable Enterprise has 8 Functions. And it has emerged from EXPERIENCING FAILURES. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it. Because the testing was precisely, where this or that didn’t work, and why, and how do we respond, and what is missing?

How does it look like? A Sustainable Enterprise?

 

 

It is up to you to order it to adapt to the needs you serve.

Suddenly, we saw a PATTERN.

It is a fabric of possibilities. And that was why The Kind Weaver became the twin of The Silent Dancer.

 

 

WHAT IS MISSING?

What is missing is theory. It is thinking, a continuation of theory into practice, and it doesn’t stop there. It loops back to theory, because, if you don’t centre yourself in the process, you will end up in a dance of circles.

Circles can be fun, and exhilarating, but it may have too much randomness to it, so you need to PAUSE, and THINK.

AND META-THINK. Think about your thinking. i.e. meta-cognition.

And this is why we called in Nora Bateson.

She carries the LINEAGE of the ECOLOGY of Mind and the MIND of Ecology.

I don’t know what happened, but as I was allowing myself to be infused by Nora’s writings, I woke up realising I might just have two minds. My new mind suddenly being aware of my old mind, and suddenly, not being afraid of my new knower seeing my past known. Quoting from “Small Arcs of Larger Circles” by Nora Bateson:

“I want to emphasize that whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer, stricter way of thought or exposition; whenever we start insisting too hard upon ‘operationalism’ or symbolic logic or any other of these very essential systems of tram-lines, we lose something of the ability to think new thoughts. And equally, of course, whenever we rebel against the sterile rigidity of a formal thought and exposition and let our ideas run wild, we likewise lose. As I see it, the advances in scientific thought come from a combination of loose and strict thinking, and this combination is the most precious tool of science.” – Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind

 

Bequest

I used to think bequest was about gifts. Because I have had to do all those lovely examinations on Inheritance Taxation literally in the dungeons of cold examination halls between 1994-1997 London under the Tube system.

I never regretted one bit of that professional qualification under ICAEW. Never one bit. Though in my inter-growth years as a woman and professional, I might sound like a very lamenting female. In Singapore, there isn’t as much a ceiling at work. At home, we can be more supported, as most of our moms and helpers love family work and rally around the professional girl championing to break the corporate glass ceiling. The conflict, for me, wasn’t that I didn’t get support. The conflict was the truth of reality:

I couldn’t do both.

I knew if I missed the early years (and I am finding, middle years, adolescent years, their whole lives) of raising my children, that I would regret later on. My personal insurance against regret back then in 2000, was to 1) be a mother, and 2) and let my career adapt.

It was a very big risk. It was in effect, a leap into nothing.

 

Ponder with PEK

SE0

My ground zero became the Household. I tried to templatise everything. I understood that it is a School of Life. And my helper, Melba, is my wisest friend. She said to me with her beaming courage and wisdom, “It is a Happy Heart. No need the school.” I was polling for names to rename what I thought was a very egotistical name for a company. One that completely lifted up the veil of incorporation to reveal who I am.

 

Back to The Story of Bequest

Another phrase in Nora’s book made my eyes go _____. I don’t know how to describe eye communications. But it was a bit like Chewy. He is a wookie. Wookies are humanoid. Just a clarification for those of you who can’t quite get the hairy features of human(oids).

(I will figure my videos, so that I can show you how wookies communicate.)

The phrase, get ready:

FOR OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN.

It made me tear up because it made me recall why I dumped the household and jumped back into the marketplace.

img_9198PEK & her Mommy, Nancy
Making Tapioca Balls Rolled in Fresh Coconut
Moonriver Lodge, Sigar Highlands, 2019

 

It is because of my parents.

Their dreams.

For us.

img_9281Forest Levitators
PEK, Loida & Keith
Filming the making of Sigar River Park
Sigar Highlands, 2019

 

They had gifted me the gift of global literacy and mobility, by first making sure I had an education and broke the inherited limited legagies of being a girl at my birth, by naming me with the same generational name as my brothers, and daring to let me fly. My name is Courteous Swallow. Which is the bit they missed. Recently, my dad’s lawyer said to him, “Your daughter has been silent.” My dad gave him a bemused look (& warning), “She isn’t silent, she is loud.” And after 49 years, he takes a nip at me, “She should have been a boy.”

And this time, instead of raging, I cheekily smiled at his play of goading me to my highest heights, and asked, “Why?” He replied without missing a beat:

“Because I can’t control girls.” (meaning my mom!)

“Too bad, dad, I am a girl,” I said to him and his lawyer, and they chuckled out loud, and we got on with the lawyering. Because an accountant has to work with lawyers. And because this accountant has just decided to work with her father, also an accountant, but decided to try something new – integrate and expand Household Affairs to include Family Business, in her cooky economics-entrepreneurism. In a way, only a woman can, “Too bad for patriarchy, and actually matriarchy, too.” Again to no one in particular.

And suddenly I find myself: an accidental sustainable township developer.

img_9160Albert Khoo
The Bequest of Street Kid
Sigar Highlands, 2019

Here’s my 74 yo dad driving me to action cam the site.

He was starting to crab up on me, and I said to him, “How am I going to market this if you don’t tell me how big is the land? Very few people can visualise 1,000 acres.”

So, I filmed it. The drive on the highway, along the length of the land, adjacent to the highway.

And he drove me, and he said that his back hurt, and that it was hard growing old. I told him, “You are not old, dad.” And then I went on and rattled about telomeres and neuroplasticity, but I have no credibility in this area, so he didn’t nod.

The real point I was making to him was this, “If you don’t show me how to do this, how are you going to transmit this knowledge to me?”

Stay tuned, the story of the land is coming up soon. And bequest, for me, became inter-generational love-family-work-play-friendship.

And the inner pain, fears, longings, conflicts – dissolved, into the latent field of everything I now know as an inner sanctuary called A Happy Heart.

He never once said, “I am scared,” when I was growing up. He and my mom did not have the luxury of vulnerability. They came from 1940s Malaysia where most things were either gangsterism or making yourself grow up straight and narrow. They get yelled at or socked on the ears or a slap behind the head if you lose your path in the midst of post WWII nation-building. Either that or you get lost in the curfews. So you stay at home as newly married 20 year olds during a curfew, and that was how I was conceived.

I suppose if they had demonstrated on the streets, I wouldn’t be born. Hmmm, an interesting thought for the next story.

“Happy birthday, curfew baby,” my dad in his wry humour greeted my 49 years on earth. I grinned to myself and was glad I had reconciled my own historicities with my personal hysteresis, and have just come out of a very long existential search.

I said to both my parents on my birthday, “Thank you Mom and Dad. For everything.”

In any case, they broke many inherited trappings of their times, and this is the continuity. They are still breaking through the limits of entrepreneurism, and now with us.

 

Hero or Pilgrim?

That’s tomorrow’s chapter.

A pedagogical documentation is like this. It brews tomorrow’s chapter, even as today and yesterday are re-brewed.

 

A Story of Moonriver Lodge

 

 

Good Workers’ Quarters 
Moonriver Lodge,
Sigar Highlands, 2019

It was really an Accidental Lodge.

It was really all accidental something for me.

I thought to myself, what is my driver? I looped in centuries and space-time, until I understood, I have been trying to solve the pain in my heart, when I see others in pain, and the pain in my own heart, when I am in pain, and when I understand that mortality is 100% real.

 

Flow

The driver of The Economics of Universal Wellbeing is actually a river of love and friendship.It flows where it is called. Where it is needed.

We tried to beat it away. We tried to beat it to death. Yet love keeps surfacing to be named.

I made a conflicted choice:

I married my best friend.

And together, we gave birth to our two best friends.

img_0304Toadstools under a Forest Shelter
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore 2019

“Why are you hugging the forest mushroom (sculpture)?” I asked my 16 yo, just yesterday after our post-lunch walk. “Because it is nice and cold,” she was literally melting under the heat, and was wisely seeking a solution. Ordinarily, this would be deemed odd. But, behaviour, once the intent is revealed, no longer look odd, but is actually sensible communication.

I don’t know any other relationals. Except that society is necessitated by governance relationals, which morphs and adapts, and in which we are a part of, and out of which we also surface,

A way of one’s own.

Which at every step becomes a step of one’s own being, and eventually, if we are honest about it, it is about our own personhood, after it is being said and done, we are one with earth, and the cosmos, and the multitudes of galaxies, and when we meet each other, we are walking, talking, emotional, thinking, playful, mobile organisms of multitudes.

I suppose that’s one way of thinking about it all.

 

Meeting

So what remains is the meeting, and the exchange of mutual dignity.

 

Action

And what gets acted can be a thought, it can be a smile, it can be a wave, it can be some solid building of stuff.

 

Transaction

And what gets transacted. That is the really tough zero-ing in.

For livelihood matters, and the whole market mechanism to maintain its dynamism, we use prices. The price of something. And then we exchange using that currency of exchange that is accepted by the reciprocity of the exchangers.

If we don’t use the price mechanism, it can be a gift. That’s a gift economy. But it is still transactional.

If we just meet, and be silent. Perhaps, that’s nothing.

But perhaps, that is everything – because not knowing is latency.

It is latent possibilities.

My VC (Venture Capital) friend kindly barred me from mentioning space-time in my deck. I thought about that for three years. My response, “Naah, if not now, when?”

So, Quantum becomes embroiled in Economics, in this very messy theory-making living exercise.

 

Intimacy

Finally, the place where I love most.

Conversations, connections and friendship-making.

I was looking through all my pedagogical documentation of the last 3 years.

It was unbearable even for me, but the one thing that withstood it all. The power of family and friendship.

And the power of listening.

img_9861What are we Emerging with Nora Bateson?
Thoughts on Chalkboard
BB Studio, 2019

Listening

In listening, we wait. In waiting, wholeness emerges. As it is. And in that, is the seed sprouting, after a very long winter.

img_8818Bilberries Blue Bookmark
Handbuilt Clay
Singapore, 2019

 

Wildflowers

It is spring in the eternal summer of all seasons.

And we welcome the rain, as well as the sun.

Snowdrops, the first buds appear out of nowhere.

The mushrooms sprout in between cracks.

Concrete earth becomes cement to hold her children.

And like butter, we melt into the burst of onde-onde

of the sweet, surprising

sundrops.

img_0008Inside a Sunhat
Handbuilt Clay
Singapore, 2019

And the story in this is that if I have not lived it, how could I integrate it?

So, the story forward for me is to dare to live it. To keep living into the unknown.

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Daughter with Mother
Denali National Park, Alaska 2008

And into the forest we go – trolley bag, ponchos, and everything.

 

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The Inside Scoop: Ask Agnes

COUNTDOWN T Minus 7 Days

I decide I am going to stop trying to tell the story of Bilberries Blue Inaugural Microsummit. It hasn’t happened yet. The point of it is the discovery and the making of it. Not the planning and the executing of it.

And then, I get my Saturday Afternoon and the rest of the next 7 Working Days back to enjoy the making of something truly new, and magnificent.

 

Saturday Afternoon – June 29, 2019

 

“You have to love it, you know,” I talk to no one in particular.

 

Whatever it is you find yourself undertaking, you will find that it gets incredibly difficult to sustain if you don’t like the work, and you don’t know the reason for being involved in the work. The people and environment will keep changing, and if it is the people who are the reason for your being a part of that culture and economy, then, your heart will have to be very strong, because people come and go, and so do markets, institutions and economies.

 

Whatever it is that I love, I have found a way to engage with it. To understand the depth of the mechanics of how it works. I think we find many structures of understanding for bodies of work or knowledge, and we label them, and then they get different degrees of authority and corresponding monetary values being associated with the knowledge.

 

Knowledge is just really knowing how to do something. If you know how to twirl a pencil, you already have knowledge. If you can share that knowledge, meaning you are able to show someone how to twirl a pencil, and you can do it systematically enough, you have a classroom of pencil twirling learners.

 

If you then collectively twirl a massive amount of pencils, then you could collectively potentially harvest wind.

 

You become like a mechanical turbine.

 

If you know every person whom you have taught to twirl a pencil, like he or she becomes a friend, you have many friends.

 

How you teach the pencil twirling is up to you. It most likely depends on the person’s interest and reason for twirling pencils.

 

If a person comes to you because he wants to harvest wind (by twirling pencils) for creating electricity, you would have to say to this very keen learner, I can only twirl pencils.

7178fce7-2062-443b-ba12-6bd0b607e893I Can Only Twirl Pencils
PEK with Uncle Ramalingam
Street Entrepreneur since 1959

Jalan Panglima, Ipoh, 2019

And humbly make a bid for a collaborative exchange like, “Can you show me how to convert twirling into electricity after I show you how to twirl pencils?”

 

He might look at you with scrutinising eyes, and say, “OK, but we might need to visit Agnes.”

 

Then you say, “OK. But I owe her a story.” The real truth is you owe Agnes one story which you can’t spin together, for the life of you, but you don’t tell your electricity collaborator, because he might not be impressed (with you not being able to spin just ONE STORY.)

 

So you say, “Ask Agnes.”

fa9dd086-c4f8-4237-87d6-2bf8d3378c38Hand on Landmower
Photo of Agnes hand on landmower
Schiedam, Netherlands, 2019

 

And so both you and your collaborator go to see Agnes.

 

And then now Agnes gets a bit annoyed, because, we haven’t got the first story, and then a second story starts PoP-Ping up, and Agnes asks him for the electricity story, and looks right at you for twirling pencils when you are supposed to be writing The Story That Unifies It All.

 

So you try again, and speak again with some kind of a reclaimed innocence, “I was just doing what I love.”

 

And what I hope to know is really how to twirl it all together.

 

Agnes says, “What is the relevance?”

 

I say to Agnes, “Ask him.”

7effa7f4-eb03-4bd7-ae57-551c6a4e0abePEK with Harry
ThinPandam
Street Entrepreneur since June 2019
Jalan Panglima, Ipoh, 2019

 

And then when she asks him, he says, “Ask Aunty Ooi.”

img_9620Aunty Ooi
80 year old Street Entrepreneur since 1968
Stadium, Ipoh, 2019

“Who is she?” asks Agnes.

 

It looks like someone has turned up to say that she could use the new electricity to charge up her heart.

 

“Whatever for?” Agnes asks.

 

Someone pipes up suddenly from nowhere, “So that we can do the stuff we love.”

 

Agnes frowns and everyone starts to go, “Oh, Oh, You didn’t get the brief?”

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“What memo?” Manju turns up, “I just got back in from China.”

 

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The Inside Scoop: The Shape of Me

COUNTDOWN: T minus 7 days

I keep not being consistent. I started with the number of countdown days to Bilberries Blue Inaugural Microsummit and then I realised, I can’t count the weekends, and I started counting working days, and then I slip behind in my daily targets, and then I –

 

Work on a Saturday morning right out of bed.

 

I call this a Project Management True-up.

It means catch-up, or rebooting, or complex dynamic adaptation.

 

 

Friday June 29, 2019

3pm Concall to discuss Bilberries Blue, Food Forest Farm and Moonriver Lodge interstories became me on a Grab with Vincent on the way to 10 Square @ Orchard Central with two boxes of Art Teacher Stuff getting ready for Mirrors Before the Sun, an inclusive art workshop for children and youth, with a whole bunch of old memories of dreams of Landing Space and CharKOL in our 30s finding a new renewal and continuity in this new fire and re-commitment by the usual suspects of my life in our approaching 50s.

img_0092The Art Teacher Loading The Art Boxes onto the Boot of a Grabcar
Singapore, 2019

 

Vashima PoPs-up

img_0212Vashima meeting Leng for the first time
10 Square@Orchard Central

3ff3357c-3529-4dda-8eaf-09320f5f120d

Then Vashima PoPs up at the end of The Inclusive Art Workshop to work on the pedagogical documentation and I woke up being greeted by a video of Day 1 of Mirrors Before the Sun – The Inclusive Art Workshop. I don’t know what inclusive means anymore as for me, the state of existence already includes everyone, and it is by way of choice and composition that one calls a grouping of something this or that, and suddenly, the beautiful art-making of conceptual organisational ordering became for me, something the order of:

 

The Shape of me

Back to the story of the concall. I briefly gave a sketch of my plan, how I am behind by two days, and then parents and children started to arrive, and I am with my iPhone, my ear piece plugged in attending a video conference call between Singapore, Ipoh, KL and Schiedam, turning the camera away from my face to giving a visualisation of the space of 10 Square, greeted parents, settled the families into the art studio, and then whisked out my action cam and stuck it into my pocket, and trusting that the wide angled lens will record something fascinating, we rolled into action with the kids, parents and helpers to find everyone just lighting up, inside, outside (upside down) and there are no words for something like this.

 

The above is action prose poem, not.

 

But it does get exhilarating like this when I try to be a documentarian who is also in the action.

Vincent Unloading The Art Boxes
10 Square@Orchard Central Art Studio
Singapore, 2019

And I ask myself, why do I do this to myself? A part of it is Martin Seligman’s PERMA and this is what it takes for my personal eudaimonia to pop, but largely it is because, I am trying to see how things really work with people, and what are the circumstances and environment that bring joy and nurture that deep sense of connectedness and coming into one’s own.

 

The shape of me, I realise, is my body in space, that organism that is a physical human body, and then there is the mental me – which is my conception of me. There lies the identity of me. How I draw that map in the terrain of society is how I am relating, and how big or small or what shape I am is about this mental relational.

 

I think I am getting at structure.

At yesterday’s art workshop little 7 yo J built a 3d structure on his collage piece. And 12 yo K was thinking of how to glue a box of coloured pencils onto his piece after he decided to put a shoemark on the glue. And little 8 yo K layered her work, and 20 yo N carefully laid out her work and gave colours and shape to her emerging landscape piece, and 20yo A, moved his composition several times in maybe 10 different ways, belting out his rendition from Annie the musical, “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! The sun will come out tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! It’s only a day away!”

img_0186

The shape of Hope looks like this. It was dynamically constructed, and the structure shifts even as the components discover. The form-making is dynamically adapting to the needs of the community of the space and the relationals of that microsociety. That complexity, when freed from a more structured pattern language of relating in a group, becomes the space of the unknown that many prefer they don’t have to navigate through, because it takes high energy to relate to fresh new relational data. And like everything new, it requires constant change, until a common ground is established. Yet as soon as a form coheres, it shifts.

 

Chronicles of a Semi-Liquid-Semi-Solid Occurences

I am reading “Chronicles of a Liquid Society” by Umberto Eco. I told Stefan about it and his response was, “At some stage, we would have to become solid.”

 

I am not sure. I think a human body is solid, but the human mind can grasp from the Big Bang to the black hole and represent space-time interdependencies on bobbles and charts, with very good Physics storyteaching by Brian Cox.

 

A Very Pulsating Walk from 10 Square

I said to Vashima at 7.30pm yesterday, while walking between 10 Square to the Somerset bus stop, with zero contact with my family (as my iPhone battery finally decided to go flat and I had no power bank backup), was that, “This time, I am going to rework my pattern language so that I don’t burnout. That means creating my personal generative code.”

And I said to her, the difference now is that I let it go. I let go my plan. I would still make the plan to frame, but I would need to do dynamic true-ups as I am living the plan, which actually isn’t the plan anymore but action research. But actually, the research becomes a dynamic reflective practice and I become a practitioner instead, of my own generative coding.

 

Now if the form keeps adapting, what is the goal that one can track and still be confident that one hasn’t gone off track?

 

For me, I think that continuity is health and wellbeing. And that ability to reground into the centre of joy. It is always a little bit about playing badminton for me when I am in action play. Try to play each shuttlecock (actually, whack it) and always go back into the centre while waiting for the next shot. I used to play competitively, and the rewiring I am making myself rework now is to play collaboratively.

 

Collaborative creative work is really a little bit of a jaunty ride.

After 20 years of doing this, and investigating kickstarting projects, programmes, products, services, enterprises, family(!), I realise, it’s not about scalability. Growth isn’t about scalability. It is about adaptability.

 

The scalability is about the connectivity. The multitudes of connections that one can build and cohere with others that are stable, for different circumstances. That which we call an ecosystem.

 

An an ecosystem where the common goal is health and wellbeing: personal, social, planetary.

 

The words, the description, the process, the form of organising, I think these become more like art – personal and universal at the same time, uniquely spoken and in many ways, rapidly iterating to communicate the necessary between groups and subgroups of relating.

 

Common Exchanges

Whether the exchange is a market exchange, as soon as two human persons engage, there is something of two identities having to navigate and decide a common ground which speaks for both identities authentically and agreeably, happening.

 

And so, the shape of me, would have to be also the shape of you, and what would the two shapes put together – look like? Be described? Be communicated? Be open for the engagement of another shape of the new other?

 

A Bag of Water

“Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love, it humbles my heart. For you are everywhere.” – Attributed to Rumi

I remember listening to Eileen Heisman speaking at a lecture organised by the Community Foundation of Singapore. She was sharing her journey as a philanthropic entrepreneur. She said that it is about being a bag of water in the freezer.

My takehome after that very inspiring evening was this note to myself:

  • You allow yourself to take the shape of the gaps of needs.
  • You become that momentary solidification of that gap. Of that new bridge. You become a space for the new relating. You become like a chemical bond for a new compound to become.

That’s what responding entrepreneurially to needs mean, for me.

 

Doggedly Terrified

I have scheduled another concall with Agnes on Tuesday, and I am terrified! I can’t pass up my homework.

Bilberries Blue remains doggedly wide open.

 

Ken Yong said, “I like the wild open.”

 

On Monday, July 1, I will share our forest journey. And since I am working ahead, that would make me a “precrastinator” (ref not named as there is a pop quiz prize for this).

 

Bilberries Blue Interns

Back to Friday, Winnie sent me a text. Internship! Our kids are getting ready for the workplace. And so, Bilberries Blue Interns will be PoP-ing up soon, and as I don’t direct anymore, the interns shall design their own internship!

Watch out for MEETINGS.

 

8pm with Vashima.

That walk from 10Sq to the bus stop took us a delicious, reflective pondering of 1 hour. What changed in my pattern language? I let go. Let everyone lead the way forward in each of the archetypes. Which means I kinda fire myself as the chief designer and engineer. And eventually, chief yakker.

 

9.00pm Friday Paktor Night

I made my Friday datenight, after my dinner date had finished his dinner. Thankfully, he greeted me with a smile and I didn’t have to go into the doghouse. Which will be tough because, we live in a condo and we don’t have a dog.

 

Saturday – Half Day Working Day

And this morning, I choose to be – liquid – glue.

And I WordPress this. And shut down the computer for 1.5 days.

 

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The Inside Scoop: The Mad, Frantic Prep for (Behind the) Mirrors Before the Sun

T Minus 9 Days AND 8 Days

This is NOT Good. My perfectly planned planning THE MICROSUMMIT PLAN got whisked out by the whirling reality of time, distractions, and procrastination. I watched a TED Talk on Procrastination and convinced myself: “I am not an instant grafitication monkey!” If you can tell me which TED Talk this is, I’ll gift you one PoP Quiz prize!

img_0084.jpg

A sharing with Vincent, my collaborator. He said I am his collaborator so I guess I am.

We (He is) are preparing for an Inclusive Art Workshop, and I am supposed to get ready for the BB Microsummit. But I got distracted by all the art stuff. Especially MIRO.

img_0081

Here’s Vincent and Mr Grumpy. Mr Grumpy is Vincent’s Art Teacher Helper.

 

Here’s the Art Garb – Everything the Art Teacher Needs.

img_0068

Here’s Vincent frentically preparing, and me highly distractedly wondering how to tell stories about 12 archetypes of the ESG Economy and all the wonderful people who have been part of the co-prototyping and co-building of it all. And there are quite a few of us.

 

The hope came from many heartspaces. Many, and so many dreams, and we are still dreaming. The doing, we find, and the keep doing, is what we are finding out. The stories write themselves, and we live it, and then live to share the stories.

I read the chapter on “Non-Trivial Economy” in Nora Bateson’s book, “Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns”.  I carry her book everywhere I go so that I can get to know Nora, and be able to dialogue with her regarding stuff. Stuff that matters to us both. To our hearts.

Maybe it isn’t about Currency. So I stopped frentically buzzing in Shenton Way today, to unpack all my boxes of art materials. All the art books, all the collection of art made by children. Memories of charKOL flood my being. I have no chance.

Meet Mervyn, a Logistics Entrepreneur. He runs his own van, and he helps me transport stuff around.

Suddenly, Winnie who has been co-founding One Love with me texted me this morning. I haven’t had the chance to update her. I said, “Would you mind if I just add you to Bilberries Blue? I’ll explain later.” She texted back without missing a beat, “Sure.”

Suddenly, I am late for a Zoom Meet with Agnes, who wants to talk to me regarding our stories. I am still not following the brief, and it has been six months since she asked for my homework – ONE A4 Page About My Why.

That was a disaster.

But not this.

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The Inside Scoop: Economics-Non-Economics

Countdown T Minus 9 Days

img_9988Yoda and Darthy staring at Yong Tau Foo
Lau Pa Sat, Singapore, 2019

June 26, 2019 – In Need 

I am plugged in. (Listening to “In Need” by Sheryl Crow). I am rained out. I am staring at a very big fan.

img_9992-1

The chimes of the clock tower in Lau Pa Sat remind me of the Ipoh clock tower I had just driven past last week.

img_9639Clock Tower
Ipoh Old Town
Ipoh, Malaysia, 2019

I think of Boston, I think of London. I think of Zurich.

img_9813Boston, 1995

img_9811.jpgLondon Bridge, London, 1997

img_9839.jpg
Zurich, 2013

They are all financial capital cities.

In every city, there is a City. A financial hub.

In that hub, transaction support guys. Transaction Support. The exchange of corporate-related property rights. Be they shares/equity instruments, loan instruments, tangible assets, intangible assets and derivatives of these. And there will be accountants. I know lawyers are still called lawyers. Company secretary is now corporate secretary. I don’t know what accountants call themselves these days. Inside me, I am still an accountant, I guess.

I went to the City today.

img_9971Lau Pa Sat, Singapore, 2019

When I was younger, I would go into the City for work. Today, I went to see a friend.

ae252d95-d027-4f71-8271-002742cee762Sandra Seah & PEK
Bird & Bird Singapore, SGX Centre 1
Singapore, 2019

She lifted a ton of heaviness off my shoulders and my heart. I had imagined friendships in Ipoh Old Town, and now I am living friendships in 2019 Shenton Way. My heart is soaring. Maybe it isn’t all madhatting after all. Maybe there is such a thing as doing business, being professionals and living kindness.

 

A Platform but Not Quite So Sexy

Oops. This is what happens when you add a dash of something interesting into the works. Like Economics.

And the entire terrain shifts itself.

Just last week, I offered a young lawyer beer for his (legal) services. He blushed. I think he couldn’t believe I was really offering a trade. But maybe he is too young (for such non-cash transactions).

My friends tell me I can’t say such things. Cannot mix metaphors. Cannot talk so much in polite commercial situations. And they tell me I must comb my hair. Curl them, even better.

I tell them about love and friendship in the marketplace, and one friend said, “You sound like you are setting up a dating platform.”

 

Light Switches and Rape Alarm

I remember Euston House 1995, being a junior auditor being involved in the privatisation of the British Railways Board. Preparing a penultimate and terminal accounts of a nationalised institution of the Welfare State that had to be corporatised. I couldn’t understand the emotions. But I could feel it visibly. I could see it in those around me, but I couldn’t read it. I was too young. I couldn’t understand the choked words. Seeing an entire building empty, and I understood, in my mid-twenties that the accountant and the janitor are left to switch off the lights of an institution. Someone to turn off the lights and someone to settle the last dollar.

Usually, during the audit season, the junior auditor turns off the lights at the end of the day. So an ex-auditor is quite used to operating light switches and setting up company alarm systems, when everyone’s gone home, and it is dark, and one learns to become unafraid in the aloneness, and nonchalant almost, about darkness. Because one already sees dawn, and the switching off the lights is simply to transit to another good day’s work and usher in another turn of the good day.

But I didn’t understand the in-betweens. I had the understanding of the mapping of an auditor. I understand the processes of all the key threads of functional flows and the gates of risks. Every material checkpoint – we have our eyes on them. We were a little bit like Gurkhas, except we were in suits and what London had to get used to then, in mid-90s were girls at work, in the City.

Guess what this is. Yes, it’s my work drawer (in 2019) and two stories.

img_9807The Ancient Rape Alarm
PEK’s Drawer,
Singapore 2019

Standard issue to rookie girls: A rape alarm. I hold it in my hand when crossing London Bridge in the dark. Can you spot it?

Second story: don’t use the word drawer in the (United) States of (America). Do not ask to look into your manager’s drawers for files or stationery.
Backpacks & Mobility

Come second year, they issued us backpacks. Figured we really couldn’t lug those boxes (without wheels) across London Bridge and still be able to pull the plug off the rape alarm. Client files or chastity. So they issued us a backpack.

Then I figured pant suits. At least there will be another checkpoint.

It’s all about gating. Like managing dams and canals.

It’s still raining so I am working at Lau Pa Sat. The tables are super sturdy.

img_9995Swissy Doing the Imagined Yoddle
Lau Pa Sat,
Singapore 2019

40 rookies assigned to hotel 4 desks. In that kind of rookie environment, we learnt very fast to be mobile and be very lean. And to be grateful for every inch of square foot that you can rest your tired behind. First generation to whack Lotus Notes email and replicate electronic working papers on-site and talk on recording devices called the voicemail. We learnt to clear review points by leaving each other voicemails – point by point.

Some review notes have stories in them if you get a manager who likes to write. Some just have one or two words, and you have to scramble to decipher the secret coding of that partner or manager.

So one learns to decode very fast in this kind of environment where suits get very upset if we miss delivery. Very upset.

We were lucky coaching had entered the scene so yelling wasn’t allowed anymore. Plus I think it wouldn’t look cool to yell, even then. So I don’t know what the coping mechanisms people have developed since then in the evolution of their professional careers, but now I have developed my ahimsa space.

img_0009Inside a SunHat
Singapore, 2019

It isn’t working. That ahimsa space, because I am still yelling. In the midst of fast-action business decision-making, and as an entrepreneur, all the coaching went out the door. All the theory too. And all the practised decorum. And one becomes authentic. (Brene Brown will approve.)

 

That’s what I have discovered. Zero.

 

Zero to A Glimpse of Point 1 (0.1)

I love Zero. I hated it before. I hated not knowing. I hated hating. I tried to sugarcoat everything and it was no wonder everyone started calling me a “Princess”. Interestingly, I would have liked “Princess Warrior” but no one called me a warrior, only a princess.

img_8104
Yoda & Darthy Not Impressed at Underpreparedness, Generally
Backpack strap doubling up as shoe sole holder
Singapore, 2019

Confessional: I cried in my suit in the bathroom as a rookie. And I cry openly as an entrepreneur, trying to stitch the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) together to become a sustainable economy.

Write it down. Write down the Economics. Wow. How do I write down 39 years? At 10 years old, I had translated my first corporate agreement from Bahasa Malaysia to English. I looked back at my baby photos. Other baby girls get dolls, I visited factories as soon as I walked.

I have a photo to prove this. But will dig up after finishing this piece on Economics.

 

OK, Economics.

OK, I write it down.

Where did I pick off from? After the baptism of fire of the public accounting passage.

I jumped into not-for-profits to understand where the equitable piece went. In terms of the allocation of scarce resources bit. I was taught – equitable and efficient allocation. So I just wondered to myself, what happened to that piece?

The next piece was family. I am a mother of 16 years with two children, and yes, I do have a man too. Our household has a household management system involving two helpers and the division of portfolios and body parts. We basically manage according to strengths and specialisms. The entire terrain is scanned, mapped, covered. Without too much microexplosions. Typically mine are procrastinated and my husband’s are on Trello.

And then, I started to re-look at economic poverty. And these became underserved communities and became underserved persons for me. I had to re-examine disabilities and debunk that labelling because our son came with an extra chromosome, which was a brilliant, surprising twist of nature and gift of the cosmos. Thanks to (one) Brian Cox interface (at a physics lecture which is not a lecture), I have a better grasp of cosmology, or so I think.

Space-time was actually interestingly, largely missed in Economics. So, we wired the quantum and latent potential in. Through haiku’s and non-conceptual Ommmmms. So materiality became like literal – the material of matter. Matter-distribution at like epic-cosmic levels!

The idea of Commons is like at sunspot or starburst or like blackholes twirling rainbows. It gets psychadelic, on its own, even without any intervention.

Chin Hwee, Ngai Kin & PEK
Eating, Drinking & Chatting
Singapore, May 28, 2019

I don’t really understand it all much actually. So I went and looked up two friends: Ngai Kin and Chin Hwee. We were supposed to have read Economics. Apparently, we read it all differently. So, we could only chat about what we read. We tried to refresh our active revolving telomeres and see if we could map the evolution of Economic Theory and Developmental Economics. I confessionally couldn’t figure Political Economy and Economic History (especially of Victorian Britain and the Interwar Years). Still can’t. So I did reach out to some nifty friends in these areas, and they have to tell me stories, to explain it all. I said, “No math for this?” They said, “No, baby. It’s non-rational.”

Plus, we are squarely all back smack in South-east Asia in 2019, and the world kinda has changed. Like drastically, and plus, much of the oral history of mass transmigration of twentieth century of Malaysia and Singapore is now like 95+ years old. And much of the documented history is still too raw to be dialogued. Plus, we have a lot of languages to figure out.

 

The Auctioneer

OMG to the T-max. What is Economics?

And so, I had a massive identity crisis. Because up till then, I thought I had understood it. As vaguely as the Invisible Hand could afford me some semblance of structure and order. My favourite character if you will in the whole grand scheme of things is The Auctioneer. So I imagined the auctioneer fixing everything.

I will dig up a photo of my imagined Auctioneer, I promise.

Back to the Walras’ Law.

I had believed Professor Hahn, with his umbrellas. His price of umbrella on a sunny day is different from his price of an umbrella a rainy day.  There should be a price for every good/service for every state of the world. The most fascinating theory that never left me is this promise of the microfoundations of macro economics: The General Equilibrium Theory. I like it because it is most hopeful and most expansive. Plus it is complete and perfect. Theoretically, speaking.

Until you examine the squiggles and realise that there are conditions like:

  • Complete and Perfect Markets
  • Complete and Perfect Information
  • Perfect Coordination

I don’t remember the others. I am still trying to hunt down that journal paper. I see the equation in my mind’s eye, and mostly, Professor Frank Hahn calling us “little kinder” but I can’t remember the details. And I think the lot of us have recycled our lecture notes, after 30 years. (This too I did a round of validation.)

 

So, does the market clear on its own, or do we need intervention?

 

I believe there are multiple equilibria and equilibria can get stuck, and with just a little bit of nifty intervention, we can reboot the pathways towards goodness and renewability.

 

I believe it coherently, theory-wise, and conditions-wise.

 

So, I think theory is important. Even if it isn’t reality, it is a map. A framework of thinking. A mapping of pulling out threads and figuring the weaving and rework.

 

Otherwise, it gets a bit scary, like art-making.

img_9836Making Zentrummy Art
Zentrum Paul Klee
Bern, Switzerland, 2013

Or like jumping into a community of persons.

IMG_4014People Chatting
Singapore 2012

If we have several neuron structures in our brain architecture (ref Antonio Damasio), then even our internal communication structure isn’t quite understood yet by ourselves as homo sapiens, then how are we to coordinate ourselves to arrive at the equitable and efficient allocation of scarce (now converted into renewable) resources.

So, we spent a lot of time pondering People.

  • Caring Economics (ref Tania Singer)
  • U-Lab & Presencing (ref Otto Scharmer)
  • Gift of Imperfections + Vulnerability (ref Brene Brown)
  • Wellbeing (ref The Happy Heart School Library)
  • Neuroscience (ref Antonio Damasio)

Then, we chatted a lot about Patterns.

  • Generative Code (ref Christopher Alexander)

In the midst of it, we checked out the Anthropocene. (ref Stockholm Resilience Centre & Johan Rockstrom)

And then we integrated:  Happiness!

  • Gross National Happiness Centre, Bhutan (ref Saamdu Chetri)
  • Doughnut Economics (ref Kate Raworth)
  • UNDP Global Goals

One last piece, ESG Investing.

  • PRI – Principles for Responsible Investment

I lie. One more, Enterprise Value Creation & Risk Management.

  • Startup Studios
  • Venture Builder

 

Impatient with the storytelling style, everyone is now ready to yell at me:

 

Elevator Pitch, Madam Yakker!!!!

We are not a startup studio. We create and enable ESG local-global economies. We are an economic development studio through action research, i.e. we are ESG Economy practitioners. But we are science and arts-based as much as non-conception-based. Critically, we are sequential time-matter-impact-based. We enable the creation of sustainable enterprises that create the goods, services and platforms that serve wellbeing – planetary, social, personal.

I think we are a ESG village enabler. From Street Kid to Village Kid. Watch this space.

We chatted with as many people as possible. Anyone who is able to participate in the U-ing of the ESG Economy, and build upwards towards goodness and kindness.

Kin, PEK, Emmanuel, Chin Hwee, Cyril
at Robinson Law Corp,
Singapore 2018

We built a licence model, with the intention to provide a library and self-governance platform. I asked stupid questions (there are no stupid questions). We have Intellectual Property, and a knowledge-sharing & services structure.

We looked for Andy, to help us with governance and everything else we missed. But largely because Andy used to play rugby, so he can help with team scalability. In rugby, it is a team of 14×14. In badminton, my sport, it is 2×2 or 1×1.

Andy and Kin.jpgKin and Andy
Looking fine and dandy
Singapore, 2019

 

Listening & Speaking

The microsummit is about listening as much as about speaking. We hope to meso, macro and mundo (ref Otto Scharmer).

I had thought previously that it was a journey of transformation. It isn’t. It is simultaneous. We need to be able to do it all, as life is diverse and structured organically. Sometimes competitively, sometimes collaboratively. Sometimes emerging, sometimes dissolving. And in the process of adaptability, sometimes we grieve, sometimes we rejoice.

What takes us through the day and the long, dark nights, is love. Unconditional love. And belief. Don’t underestimate the faithfulness of friendships. It exists, and though invisible, it moves biospheres.

 

Personal Stewardship

And then we zoomed in on sustainability stewardship. Personal Sustainability Stewardship. I realise we cannot change anyone. We can only make a personal choice to make a different decision.

Every time, every day.

“There is no General Theory of Economics,” Kin finally decided to shatter my 39 year old quest. I went like, “Oh???” He went like, “Yaaa.”

“And all the reading and essays we turned in?” I was still hopeful. He said, “That’s all to help us think.”

2018, 05-28 Birth of EUWChin Hwee, Ngai Kin & PEK
Peace Centre, 
Singapore, May 28, 2018

Chin Hwee joined us for lunch. He had coffee. Kin said, “Not me, I cannot name anything.” I said, “Errr I would call it something like Sustainable Integrative Transformative Economics.” Chin Hwee closed his eyes for two seconds, either exercising immense patience, or he was accessing some lotus compassion energy, and suddenly, out of the silence, he made a definitive pronouncement (in his silent authoritative Chin Hwee way), “The Economics of Universal Wellbeing.” Well, fancy that. We took one second, unanimous three-way nodding.

Tada. We have a name for the Economics we hope to move past neoclassical economics of mid-twentieth century. Big aspirations. But big aspirations are good.

 

And solid.

 

A Collaborative Microsummit for Global Sustainability & Flourishing by

Bilberries Blue - Mar 2019 - finalIBI logoRICE-logo_colour-01

DAY 1: July 10, 2019 – 10am-12.30pm, 10 Square, Zero Fee

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-at-10-square-tickets-63727751420

DAY 2: July 11, 2019 – 10am-5pm, Temenggong House

https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/bilberries-blue-inaugural-microsummit-with-nora-bateson-temenggong-house-tickets-63730683189

July 11, 2019 – Temenggong House
18/20 Temenggong Road, S098771
10am-5pm (+ Lunch)
35 pax, SGD300* per person
*20% of Bilberries Blue Microsummit Fees are designated for underserved communities